Friday, October 21 , 2016, 8:19 pm | Fair 61º

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Kindergarten Readiness Network Forms to Better Prepare Students for School

Recent data show that most local children aren’t ready for kindergarten, so the Santa Barbara Unified School District is joining community partners together to tackle the problem.

The Kindergarten Readiness Network is an independent, community-based group with a focus on making future SBUSD students more prepared, said Michelle Robertson, preschool coordinator for the district.

The network reaches out to early childhood organizations throughout the South Coast, and its members so far include many preschools, day care centers, child development centers and the district’s kindergarten and transitional kindergarten teachers.

The network’s scope could expand later, but members decided to focus on SBUSD and Goleta Union School District feeder preschool programs and students for now.

Robertson presented results of a kindergarten-readiness test in October, and she said the results were “eye-opening” for the SBUSD board and network members.

The Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile, or KSEP, was developed collaboratively by the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, First 5 of Santa Barbara County and UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.

It tests kindergarten readiness in preschool children in terms of health, social-emotional readiness and their school-ready knowledge.

According to the results, only 37 percent of the tested students were “ready to go” for kindergarten. It looks like the achievement gap is already present, since low-income students and English learners were less prepared for kindergarten.

While 47.93 percent of non-disadvantaged, English proficient students were “ready,” only 13.73 percent of male and 24.36 percent of female low-income students were ready. Low-income, English learner students had even lower percentages.

SBUSD board member Pedro Paz, who is a program manager at First 5, praised the network for investing in early childhood education.

“If kids are not ready at this point in time, you’ll see it in third grade,” he said.

The network is forming an action plan for next year that will be presented to the district in May, Robertson said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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